RERMAG

BRICKS & CLICKS

Smart Software

Alexander Schuessler, former founding partner and director of Script International, which served Caterpillar in building its rental network across South America and other parts of the world, wanted to link equipment manufacturers to their target market, starting with the rental industry. The first question he asked himself was “how do we connect manufacturers to the user in a rental company in a timely manner?” The second question he asked was “how do we get to the point where the user has the information already at his fingertips when he needs it?”

Schuessler answered these questions and created a new electronic delivery engine called SmartEquip, which provides customized information for every equipment user and every employee at a rental company. This customized support tool includes maintenance, repair, operations information (including technical diagrams, parts lists and safety information); customer support information, including intelligent equipment specifications guides, safety and training support; and electronic warranty support and tracking for manufacturers, distributors and equipment users alike. The software integrates with Wynne Systems' RentalMan, as well as a series of other business systems widely used in the rental and distributor market.

SmartEquip's system runs on a variety of platforms, including thin clients, PC's and a variety of mobile handheld devices. According to Schuessler, it applies a patent-pending technology that allows for the display of high-resolution, better-than-CAD-quality technical images, interactive for parts search.

The product, which launches this month, is available in two versions. The Enterprise version allows equipment users to draw manufacturer-based maintenance, repair, operations support, training support, equipment specifications support and front-counter support directly into their existing rental management system. All information is fleet-customized to each individual rental store, as well as to local and regional parts inventory. All e-commerce activity, such as parts ordering, is integrated with existing purchase order systems and all service support and activity is integrated with existing work order systems. Plus, all safety retrofit alerts “find” the affected equipment, even up to the serial number level.

The Stand-Alone version allows manufacturers to use the same proprietary display technology via the Web, allowing their dealers, distributors and end users, as well as their internal customer support groups to use high quality technical documentation and drawings, as well as parts diagrams as the front-end of their e-commerce functionality.

“The main difference between the Enterprise version and the Stand-Alone version is that the former integrates with the rental companies' existing purchase order and work order systems, and that all information is constantly calibrated to the rental company's (and its customers') fleet,” says Schuessler. “Both versions are device dependent.”

Users of SmartEquip can have a significant savings in their liability insurance premiums because the system is audited with full data mining and electronic reporting capabilities.

To better understand the practical application of the SmartEquip system, take this example. Let's say a service manager finds once he checks his system that a manufacturer has placed an alert on a particular piece of equipment. SmartEquip software will allow him to order the part directly from his screen. It will first check the availability of that part against the manufacturer's inventory as well as against the service manager's own parts inventory. If the part is found to be in stock in both locations, the service manager can go ahead and take the part from his own inventory, repair the equipment in question, while a replacement part is sent immediately from the manufacturer.

SmartEquip will also ask the service manager to acknowledge that he's read the manufacturer's alert. This action will create a record that he read the alert, thus saving the rental business money on its liability insurance. The screen will also indicate whether the unit in question is still under warranty, for how much longer and whether there is any cost to him for the needed part.

“Everything is asset specific, which dramatically reduces input requirement, reduces ordering of the wrong parts and tracks the warranty of every piece of equipment in your fleet,” explains Schuessler.

SmartEquip also allows users to view the schematic of a piece of equipment, while zooming in and out and maintaining the integrity of the image. By moving your cursor along the image you are also able to identify each individual part by name. The schematics can even be viewed from a handheld device.

The system also allows the user to view equipment specifications by inventory. For example, if a customer comes into your store looking for a particular backhoe that isn't in your inventory, you can produce a comparative spec sheet onscreen with SmartEquip. The software will compare the specifications of the requested backhoe with the backhoes in your inventory to determine which unit in your inventory is closest to what the customer is asking for. You can read and compare the specs for the customer, helping you to avoid lost orders when you don't have the exact brand or model the customer is looking for.

SmartEquip software is currently being piloted at several United Rental locations, with the active participation of several of United's leading preferred vendors, Schuessler says. Financial backers include the creator of Microsoft FrontPage and a number of well-known rental and construction industry figures, including Don O'Neal and John L. Grove.

Sharp Site

A new e-commerce Web site offers one-stop shopping for diamond bits and blades. ExpressBitandBlade.com sells diamond bits, diamond blades, saws, drills, chain and wire, accessories, related equipment and used equipment for the concrete cutting and drilling industry. The site also serves as an information portal to the latest product trends and manufacturer's new product releases.

Ordering diamond blade supplies online can save your business money, the company says. “It's no secret that sending someone in a truck to pick up supplies from the local supply house is like giving that person a license to kill time,” the Web site states. “The actual costs can easily break the $100 threshold, even if the trip is a short one.” Plus, the company offers products at up to 40 percent off the manufacturer's retail prices.

ExpressBitandBlade.com offers overnight delivery for orders posted until 7 p.m. EST. The company also offers customer service support via phone, fax or e-mail if there is any question about a product's application.

Once the site gets “tuned in” to your product needs, reorders become as simple as the click of your mouse. ExpressBitandBlade.com remembers your previous purchases so reorders are quick and easy.

The site also guarantees that the user's personal information will not be sold, shared or rented to other companies.

If you have a Web site you would like to see featured in RER, please contact Brandey Smith at [email protected].

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